HOW TO PROTECT PLANTS FROM DEER OR RABBIT DAMAGE
For all gardeners one of the most frustrating parts of gardening is seeing the damage caused by rabbits and deer. Hopefully you did some wrapping/fencing last fall on some of those plants that are rabbit and deer favorites.
But the risk for damage is still looming. Because of the extreme snow and drifting we have had this winter, drifts may now have covered the tops of fences and wrapping leaving a direct path to the plant. Rabbits easily walk in and deer may be able to walk directly to the top of a tree – a perfect place for rubbing antlers or eating off the top or middle of plants.
What damage is caused if reached by rabbits/deer?
· A 1” girdling of a tree trunk by rabbits is enough to kill the tree if it is anywhere on the main trunk.
· If rabbits chew down shrubs such as spireas, barberries, potentillas etc., they will probably come back although it may take a season or 2 to recover.
· High drifts may allow deer to nibble off the middle or tops of evergreens. This won’t necessarily kill the plant, but it will look misshapen and no longer serve its intended purpose.
· If deer rub antlers on upper trunk or branches, it may kill the tree or will misshapen it for a long time.
What Else Can Be Done????
· Check wrapping and fencing and clear a path around plants if snow has gone over fences/wrapping. Look for tracks to see if rabbits have gotten access to plants. Live trap if necessary.
· Commercial products of “Rabbit and Deer Chaser” are available to sprinkle around plants, but need to be reapplied every time it melts or rains.
· At Natural Plus we have tried a home remedy: Try hanging bars of Irish Spring Soap in tree branches. Deer seem to dislike the smell. One of our best deterrents is our lively dog, Lena. Deer seem to be more wary if there is a dog roaming the property.
· If deer and rabbit damage seem impossible to deal with, plant more perennials and more plants that are more deer resistant. Perennials die down over winter and so are not as likely to be affected. We can help you identify plants that are more deer resistant.
Plants That are More Deer Resistant
If conditions are severe enough, rabbits and deer will eat most anything.
But the following plants are considered more deer resistant (usually):
Allium (Ornamental onion)
Asclepias (Butterfly weed)
Dicentra (Bleeding Heart)
Gaillardia (blanket flower)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Rudbeckia (Black eyed susan)
Dwarf bush honeysuckle
Ash leaf spirea
Rhododendron (not including azaleas)
We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about protecting your plants! We want you to enjoy them for years to come!
Another great article about deer resistant trees HERE.